Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Costly subprime credit cards offer little help. Also in the news: Take charge of your credit score with your credit report, why you should consider a mortgage recast, and four ways to manage your credit card debt.

Costly Subprime Credit Cards Offer Little Help, NerdWallet Study Finds
Just digging a deeper hole.

If You Want a Good Credit Score, Read Your Credit Reports
Studying up.

Why You Should Consider a Mortgage Recast
Save on your monthly payment.

4 ways to manage your credit card debt
Getting it under control.

Q&A: What to do about heavy credit card debt

Dear Liz: I have a lot of credit card debt and am just able to make minimum payments. I feel like after doing this for four years now that I am not getting ahead. I will be 61 this summer and don’t have much saved for retirement. My rent keeps going up along with other expenses. I have an 11-year-old car that is in need of maintenance but don’t have the funds to do it. My question is, what would happen if I walk away from the credit card debt? Will I be facing garnishment?

Answer: Yes, you could be sued and face wage garnishment if you simply stopped paying your debts.

You could consider a debt management plan offered through a credit counselor, which could lower the interest rates you pay. You can get referrals from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at www.nfcc.org. But you’d be making payments for the next five years or so, when you could be putting that cash toward your retirement.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, by contrast, would take a few months and legally erase your credit card debt to give you a fresh start. Bankruptcy is often the best of bad options when you can’t make progress on your debts. Consider meeting with both a credit counselor and a bankruptcy attorney so you understand all your options.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s best credit card tips for April 2017. Also in the news: How one man dug out from $30K in debt, seniors are facing rising credit card debt, and should colleges require a financial literacy class?

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for April 2017
The best cards for spring.

How One Man Dug Out From $30,000 in Debt
You can do it, too.

For Seniors, Rising Credit Card Debt Squeezes Tight
Medical debt is pushing seniors to the limit.

Should colleges require a financial literacy class?
Two experts weigh in.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 essential investing moves for Millennials. Also in the news: Why your tax refund is ideal for paying credit card debt, how to make sure retirement isn’t a drag, and why you need to do your homework before meeting with a financial advisor.

5 Essential Investing Moves for Millennials
Planning for the future.

Why Your Tax Refund Is Ideal for Paying Credit Card Debt
Use it wisely.

Retirement Can Be a Drag. Here’s How to Fix That
Making the most of it.

Before You Meet With A Personal Financial Advisor, Do Your Homework
Know who you’re dealing with.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Pile of Credit CardsToday’s top story: The best credit card tips for January. Also in the news: Less than one month left to shop for Obamacare, how to spend more mindfully in the new year, and what research says about erasing credit card debt.

NerdWallet’s Best Credit Card Tips for January 2017
How you can make 2017 better than 2016.

Less Than One Month Left for ‘Obamacare’ Shoppers
The deadline is Jan. 31st.

How to Spend More Mindfully in the New Year
Paying closer attention.

What research says about erasing credit card debt
Following the best path.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

images-2Today’s top story: NerdWallet’s 2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study. Also in the news: The best places in American for first-time homebuyers, why Christmas loans are the coal in your financial stocking, and the best free online courses to help with your finances.

2016 American Household Credit Card Debt Study
Creeping back up.

Best Places in America for First-Time Homebuyers
Where you should be looking.

Christmas Loans: The Coal in Your Financial Stocking
Bah humbug.

The Best Free Online Courses to Help With Your Finances
It doesn’t get better than free!

Q&A: Paying credit card debt after death

Dear Liz: I am 80 and I have a substantial amount of credit card debt, approximately $30,000. What becomes of this credit card debt in the event of my death? Will it become a future liability for my two sons or will this eventually become a bad debt for the credit card company? I would hate to see this become a financial burden for my sons.

Answer: Any credit card balances you leave behind will be a liability for your estate, not for your sons — although the debt could reduce any inheritance they get. Creditors have to be paid before any remaining assets are distributed. If you don’t have enough assets to cover the bill, creditors will get a proportionate amount of whatever’s left after paying your final expenses. Any remaining debt will be a write-off for the creditor, and your sons typically wouldn’t get anything.

You didn’t ask for help dealing with this debt, but you shouldn’t assume you can just tread water until you die and leave it for someone else to sort out. Your life expectancy at age 80 is another eight years if you’re male and nearly 10 years if you’re female, and you could live considerably longer. If overspending or medical bills led to the debt, you could accrue a lot more before you’re done. If you rack up so much debt that you can’t make the minimum payments, your interest rates could skyrocket and you may have to fend off collection calls.

You should at least discuss your options with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and with a nonprofit credit counselor.

Q&A: Cashing out an IRA to pay off credit card debt

Dear Liz: I owe about $49,000 on my credit cards and now have the money to pay them off in full. Should I? Or should I slowly pay them in large amounts?

Answer:
There’s typically no reason to delay paying off credit card debt. Carrying balances costs you money and doesn’t help your credit scores. You’ll see the fastest improvement if you pay them off in one fell swoop.

The only excuse for delaying would be if this windfall comes from a retirement fund. Cashing out a 401(k) account or IRA to pay off debt is not wise, since you’ll trigger huge taxes and penalties. Add in the future tax-deferred compounding you lose and the total cost is far more than you’ll save in interest.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Pile of Credit CardsToday’s top story: The hidden bonuses of paying off credit card debt. Also in the news: Financial tips for the sandwich generation, how to start preparing your taxes, and the changes coming to your credit card perks.

The Hidden Bonus of Paying Off Credit Card Debt
Your credit score will thank you for it.

The Sandwich Generation: 5 C’s To Deal With Your Financial Challenges
The financial challenges of taking care of your young and old.

11 Tax Moves Every Taxpayer Should Make Before the End of the Year
Time to get organized.

Big Changes Coming for Your Credit Card Perks
What’s in and what’s out.

6 questions to ask before getting a store credit card
Know what you’re signing up for.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

smartphones_financeToday’s top story: Apps to help you manage your household finances. Also in the news: Why not saving enough for retirement in your 20’s could spell doom, what college students need to know about money, and the pros and cons of using balance transfers to pay down credit card debt.

The Best Tools for Managing Household Finances
New apps to help keep your household finances running smoothly.

Why Saving Too Little For Retirement In Your 20s Is A Bet You’ll Die Young And Broke
A little straight talk.

What College Students Need to Know About Money
So that they don’t die young and broke.

The pros and cons of using a balance transfer to pay off debt.
Beware accumulated interest.

How Often Can I Apply for New Credit Cards Without Hurting My Credit Scores?
The cost of a hard inquiry.